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What is the Best Scissor Lift for my Project?

21 August | 416 views

Scissor lifts are one of the most common Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs) used in the construction industry.

Scissor Lifts are very efficient at getting personnel, tools, and materials to work areas that are directly accessible overhead, unlike boom lifts which are typically used in areas with no direct overhead access.

Both Scissor Lifts and Boom Lifts have their own unique advantages and National Dispatching offers many varieties of both. In this article, we will examine some of the attributes of a Scissor Lift and how the different Scissor Lifts can best suit your project.

How do Scissor Lifts work?

Scissor Lifts acquired their name from the mechanism engineered to raise and lower the platform, a set of expanding scissors.

The scissors are actuated by hydraulic cylinders which are powered by a hydraulic pump. The pump operating the cylinders can be driven by either an electric motor, propane engine or diesel engine. In some cases, the cylinders can be actuated pneumatically, but that power source is usually reserved for scissor tables and not for personnel lifts.

Many Scissor Lifts also have the capability to operate by “dual fuel”, meaning the operator can select the power source of an electric motor, or combustion engine, depending on the operating requirements.

Factors to consider when selecting a Scissor Lift

Selecting the proper Scissor Lift for your project starts with evaluating several factors, including:

Working Height

Understanding what the maximum height needed for your personnel to safely perform their work is a very important step to selecting the correct Scissor Lift. By sizing the lift appropriately the first time, you can avoid delays, or additional delivery and pickup charges for your rental.


Let’s talk about one of the most important factors, where will you be operating your Scissor Lift?

  • Are you operating the lift indoors or outdoors?
  • What are your ground conditions like?
  • Will you be driving the unit on finished flooring, landscaping, or other delicate surfaces?

If your work finds you operating indoors you will likely need to select a lift that operates with an electric motor, or has a “dual fuel” option to prevent hazardous air conditions from developing.

To avoid potentially dangerous operating conditions, you may need to consider a Rough Terrain Scissor Lift if you will be driving the Scissor Lift on anything but concrete or paved surfaces. Rough Terrain Scissor Lifts have large pneumatic tires and 4 wheel drive that will allow operation in conditions where other lifts would tend to high center and get stuck. Keep in mind, a 4WD Rough Terrain Scissor Lift will not work everywhere, you may need to consider a Boom Lift if your uneven ground conditions require it.

For delicate, finished surfaces, there are many solutions available such as no marking tread tires, or TireSocks to help protect your finished flooring. You can also consider protecting your finished flooring with plywood, plates, or other protection methods to reduce point loading and surface damage.

Be sure to identify other potential hazards on your project beforehand, such as how you are going to get your lift to the operating area, consider overhead power lines, uneven ground, or maximum allowable load per square foot for your building before selecting your lift.

Platform Width

To access some work locations you may need a Narrow Scissor Lift. Narrow Scissor Lifts are great for projects where you have to drive through a standard doorway and are made to get into and operate in the tightest of work spaces. Wide Scissor Lifts are also a great choice if you need to have multiple personnel on the aerial work platform or your personnel need to access a larger overhead work area without a lot of additional maneuvering.

Operating a Scissor Lift Safely

As with all equipment, obtaining the proper training, certifications, and taking the proper safety precautions are vital to successfully performing work.
The new ANSI aerial and scissor lift standards were released in December 2018 and after several delays, the implementations of the new ANSI A992 suite of standards went into effect on June 1, 2020. The standard governs not only the design aspects of MEWPs but also the safe use practices of MEWPs by specifying proper application, inspection, training, maintenance, repair, and safe operation. It is important to familiarize yourself with the requirements and obtain the required training, certifications and tracking per the new standard.

Prior to and during Scissor Lift operation:

  • Ensure you have received the proper training and certification for the classification of lift you are operating
  • Competent workers must perform a safety check prior to each shift
  • Develop an exclusion area to keep ground level personnel from entering your work area in case any tools or materials are dropped from the lift
  • Make sure all guard rails are erected with access gates closed and locked prior to operation
  • Wear OSHA compliant fall protection harness and other required PPE at all times
  • Secure all tools and materials while working on the platform
  • Maintain the required minimum distances from any overhead utilities
  • Never operate a lift alone
  • Have a rescue plan in place
  • Never stand on, step up on, or step over the guardrail components of the scissor lift
  • Never climb up the lift mechanism to access the lift platform

What Scissor Lifts are available for Rent?

There are many types of Scissor Lifts readily available for rent. National Dispatching wants all of our customers to understand the various Scissor Lifts available so you can match the right equipment to your needs. Here are some of the scissor lifts we offer:

19-Foot Electric Scissor Lift

Electrically powered, the 19′ Scissor Lift is great at navigating in indoor environments. The 19 ft platform reach makes it an excellent option for maintenance and construction projects that require a working platform. These units require a flat and firm operating surface but can make your electrical, mechanical, carpentry, or maintenance crew very efficient in the right environment.

26-Foot Electric Scissor Lift

Compared to the 19-foot scissor lift, this can be used in areas with slightly more available space. The 26′ electric scissor lift is very versatile for interior work. The additional height also includes a larger work platform. This can accommodate more materials and multiple workers when your job requires a higher reach. These units come in two orientations; 26′ Wide Scissor Lift and 26′ Narrow Scissor Lift versions.

32-Foot Electric Scissor Lift

With its 32′ height capacity, the 32 ft scissor lifts provide a stable work platform. These units come in two orientations; 32′ Wide Scissor Lift and 32′ Narrow Scissor Lift options.

40-Foot Electric Scissor Lift

When your working area is exceptionally high, this version of the 40’ electric scissor lift provides a very stable work platform and increased capacity. Like their smaller counterparts, these units come in two orientations; 40′ Wide Scissor Lift and 40′ Narrow Scissor Lift versions.

Rough Terrain Scissor Lifts

When your jobsite has uneven surfaces or is not paved, Rough Terrain Scissor Lifts answer the call and can provide a stable work platform to safely get the job done! We offer many Rough Terrain 4WD Scissor Lifts, let’s take a look at a few:

26-Foot Rough Terrain Scissor Lift 4WD

The wheels and tires are built to handle unpaved and uneven surfaces. The working platform on this 26’ Rough Terrain Scissor Lift can help you get through uneven ground conditions to your work area. These units are ideal for outdoor work and have dual fuel options.

32-Foot Rough Terrain Scissor Lift 4WD

For work that demands a slightly higher reach, National Dispatching has you covered with a 32’ Rough Terrain option. These units are ideal for outdoor work and have dual fuel options.

40-Foot Rough Terrain Scissor Lift 4WD

With a working height of 40’ this Rough Terrain Scissor Lift is a great rental choice for jobs that need to move material and workers high to complete the job.

50-Foot Rough Terrain Scissor Lift 4WD

The 50’ Rough Terrain Scissor Lift not only navigates over rough terrain but due to its outriggers, also facilitates operation in some sloped and uneven environments.

Renting Scissor Lift with National Dispatching

There is no single scissor lift for every job. When matched correctly, these highly specialized machines serve to get the job done safely, quickly and without interruption for your specific setting and task. To discuss your best options or discover other scissor lifts available in our fleet please contact us today.

Service territory via our qualified partner network

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming